Small and medium businesses (SMBs) worldwide are set to cross US $11.4 billion on beefing up their IT security and infrastructure this year in a bid to thwart increasing electronic threats. This spending trend will increase at double digit rates annually over the next several years, according to the latest study by New York-based Access Markets International (AMI) Partners, Inc.
These results were based on surveys of SMBs conducted by AMI in over 20 countries representing key developed and emerging markets. In almost all countries, IT security continues to be among the top concerns for SMBs. “Over 75% of all medium businesses (100-999 employees) and almost 60% of the small businesses (1-99 employees) surveyed in the developed economies indicated that enhancing IT security was very important for them,” said Anil Miglani, New York based Senior Vice President at AMI-Partners. “The corresponding proportion of businesses (that consider enhancing IT security to be important) was somewhat lower in the emerging markets but not by too much.”
Total global SMB spending on IT security is growing rapidly, driven by the continuing growth in the adoption of several security products like anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-spyware and firewalls/VPNs. IT adoption and spending by SMBs has been rising rapidly in recent years, driven by SMBs´ increasing awareness of electronic threats, increasing reliance on IT and the growing volume of business-critical data.
“Given their steadily increasing reliance on IT in recent years, and the growing volume of critical information stored on their PCs and servers, IT security has become a necessity for most SMBs,” Mr. Miglani says. “While there are significant differences in what SMBs include in IT security, and in what they buy, IT security continues to be a major concern among SMBs in different countries. And SMBs´ vulnerability to electronic threats doesn´t depend upon their geographical location per se anymore.”
The U.S. continues to be the single largest market for IT security products and services. However, IT security spending in some of the emerging markets is growing at one-and-a-half to two times as fast as in the developed countries. “Growing use of broadband Internet connectivity and the increasing electronic transactions with their customers and suppliers has made the SMBs in emerging markets very security conscious,” noted Miglani.
In spite of the rapid growth in SMBs´ IT security spending in recent years, the untapped potential remains large. AMI estimates there are nearly 13 million SMBs worldwide that don´t even have an anti-virus installed on their PCs. In addition, there are millions of other SMBs that are steadily adopting more sophisticated IT security solutions to meet their growing needs. IT vendors have recognized the importance of this market and have started offering products and services designed to meet the functional and budgetary requirements of SMBs.